If you run races long enough, you will likely have a DNF next to one of your race results. I have been running (off and on) since I was about 10 and even after finishing my first 100 miler at 24, I found myself DNFing my second 100 attempt, just a year later.
I sit here, on the cusp of attempting my third 100, hoping to get my second finish. And I tell you, it’s hard. There’s something to be said about being naive and innocent that first time around. I promised myself that I would finish, even if it meant I had to crawl and finished after the clock had turned off for us racers. And guess what? I didn’t have to crawl, and while I finished under the time limit, I recognize now that there was a brash naivety that allowed me to toe the line confident and with my chin up.
The second time around, I toed the line too cocky. I knew I had done it before, so while I knew it would be painful, I was overconfident in my abilities. I started too fast, I had a cheap headlamp that caused tunnel vision, and I let myself give in to the negative mental thoughts. And I called it a day at mile 74 and while that happened nearly 3 years ago, it still stings.
This time around? It’s a weird place to be. I know what it is like to successful and achieve the goal. But I’m older, wiser, and more realistic. I’ve DNFed. I had to quit on finishing a goal I wanted so desperately. With running, especially ultra running, the mind becomes such a key factor that even if you’re physically trained up, the mind can be the death of your race.
Up until about last week, I was really questioning if I had it in me. I’m not brash enough to realize that a DNF is not possible. But something changed. I realized that if I toe the line and question my abilities, I am setting myself up for failure. I purposefully signed up for this race to prove to myself that I am strong and capable of picking myself after I fall down (not literally, although I do fall constantly while I run). Then again, I would hate to act cocky and confident, only to fail yet again.
But now, when someone asks how I am feeling for the race, I say, “Positive.” I am positive that this will be hard, but positive that I am strong enough, that my crew will push me, and that I’ve already proven something by not giving up.
So if you, too, are struggling after a DNF, it’s time to build up the courage to get back out there to face the beast yet again. As cheesy as it may be, running races mimics life and I sure as hell won’t be giving up after a tough situation in life. I hope to be back here with a positive race report after my 2nd 100 finish, but I’m just happy to finally have the courage to attempt it again.
Thank you for your honesty, and value provided in this post.
Have a wonderful day,
Thanks for writing this.
I did the same during the 2015 Philky marathon stopping halfway but surprisingly felt “liberated?”
I knew I didn’t train enough and thought to myself……I run for FUN and fitness and got the good company…..I run as long and as far as I want when and where I want to and If want to stop halfway through this race I should be okay with it!
Love this article. Can’t wait to see you out there in a week.